Schwarzenegger Just Another Rich Republican

Make no mistake about Arnold, he is not a new breed of Republican. By flat-out rejecting the reasonable advice, given by economic adviser Warren Buffet, to raise California's artificially low property taxes, he proved himself to be just another Republican representing the rich. As governor he promises to champion the interests of business over those of consumers and workers.

In a press conference in Los Angeles today, Schwarzenegger had this to say about the California budget and taxes:

"We must have a constitutional spending cap and must immediately attack operating deficits head on," Mr. Schwarzenegger told a ballroom packed with reporters at the Westin Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport.

"Does that mean we are going to make cuts?" he said. "Yes. Does this mean education is on the table? No. Does this mean I am willing to raise taxes? No. Additional taxes are the last burden we need to put on the backs of the citizens and businesses of California."

Mr. Schwarzenegger said he would not provide specifics on budget cuts during the campaign. "The public doesn't care about figures," he said.

"What the people want to hear is, are you willing to make the changes. Are you tough enough to go in there and provide leadership. "

"I feel the people of California have been punished enough. From the time they get up in the morning and flush the toilet they're taxed. When they go get a coffee they're taxed. When they get in their car they're taxed. When they go to the gas station they're taxed. When they go to lunch they're taxed. This goes on all day long. Tax. Tax. Tax. Tax. Tax."

This weekend a hullabaloo enveloped the Schwarzenegger camp after Mr. Buffett suggested to The Wall Street Journal that state property taxes needed to be increased. The idea instantly riled Republicans in a state known for the tax rebellion that pushed through Proposition 13 and its limits on property tax increases.

Today, Mr. Schwarzenegger gave an unequivocal promise that he would not seek to alter the property tax structure, while chastising Mr. Buffett.

"First of all, I told Warren if he mentions Prop. 13 one more time he has to do 500 situps," he said.

Mr. Buffett gave a crooked smile.

His outlook today was decidedly pro-business. Among the 18 members of his Economic Recovery Council, whom he met with this morning, were titans of business and finance and economics professors. There were no union representatives or consumer advocates.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat who appears to be the main challenger to Mr. Schwarzenegger, according to recent polls, displayed a very different economic plan, which analysts said was bound to be contentious.

Mr. Bustamante, who defied Governor Davis's call for Democrats to stay off the recall ballot, said he would seek to restructure Proposition 13, allowing the state to reassess commercial property and tax it at its current value. This would require a constitutional amendment, an unlikely prospect, experts agree. He also proposed a tax increase on the top 4 percent of earners, an increase in cigarette and alcohol taxes and a half-billion dollar crackdown on Medi-Cal fraud.

Now that Schwarzenegger has revealed himself to be just another Republican who opposes progressive taxation, the question worth asking, but not on many people's lips, is what kind of involvement has Karl Rove and the Bush White House had in engineering this California power grab? And what does it portend for next year's election?